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Duelist Review

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An undercover female detective in Korea is investigating a counterfeiting plot and doesn't realise that the lone swordsman she is repeatedly duelling is defending a conspiracy that leads right to the top. Complicating things further, her and Sad Eyes, her opponent, begin to fall in love.

★★★★★

This Korean epic fancies itself as a cross between Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Police Story, mixing colourful wushu design with pratfalls. But it fails to mix the two tones successfully, instead managing to create unconvincing tragedy and unfunny comedy. Kang Dong-Won, as mysterious swordsman Sad Eyes, and Ha Ji-Won, as his duelling police opponent, are too busy being respectively sultry and clumsy to convince as they fall in love, leaving the film without an emotional centre.

Still, the fights are entertaining, and the production design sufficiently good-looking to save it from complete unwatchability. Perhaps the comedy double-takes, like the character names, simply don’t translate.

Proof positive that Wushu and Chan don’t mix., this aims to create a new crossover genre but falls between two stools.

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